#climatemarch


We Resist. We Build. We Rise.

Weighed down by a bit of weekend-loneliness, inability to wrap my head around uni stuff, and the cold fingers of writer’s block strangling me, I was not in a good place today. Together with the news of Trump’s executive order on Arctic drilling… my hope hid itself in my cold, dark fridge. It doesn’t see climate change if it is in there. (I believe that is also what most climate change deniers do.)

 Just like the Women’s marches did early this year, the climate march on Washington today gave me my hope back. It crawled from between the kale and the carrots out of the fridge and announced that it would get stuff done now.

These marches show that people care. They show that we have the ability as humans to come together peacefully and protest for a common denominator: The future of our planet. It is beautiful to see people from all over the world supporting each other even if they are so different. Because this unites us all.

“When humans are ranked instead of linked, everyone loses.” Gloria Steinem in “My Life on the Road”

Some argue that climate change divides rich and poor even more. Only to a certain point in time can those, who made their money through oil and coal, build their forts to protect themselves from floods and storms. In the end, nature always wins. We are all on the same page here. And it is not us against Mother Earth. We are rather her ignorant, carefree children who have yet to grow up. We don’t have the time to go through that process. We have to understand right now that it is best for us to work together in peace. That love and understanding are the only ways through which we will be able to survive. Humans took such a long time to evolve. All that time we have lived in connection with our planet, never against it. Let’s find that connection again. To our Earth, and between ourselves.

Did you go protesting in any of the climate marches? If so – Thank you so much! You are awesome! – please tell me your feelings and thoughts about it!

“I read a book about that…”


As I was just sitting in my Atmospheric Physics lecture (It’s complicated, confusing, and cumbersome), I could think of nothing else than getting back home to continue reading my new-found love: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, recommended to me by the lovely Stephanie (https://adventuresofabibliophile.com/). When I told a book-loving friend of mine, she said: “Feminism. The classic. Obviously.” She knows that I spend most of my money on books. About climate change, feminism, and self-improvement. The classics. One year ago I could never have imagined reading about these topics. I would always prefer fiction over reality.

This year I started to cure my little life-crisis with books. Where do I want to go? What do I want to be? How do I get there? Everything was explained to me. In books. All the books my friend and I had read and talked about during our runs in the last months had paid off. We were teaching ourselves how to be good managers more than our study course did.

When I started working on my book on climate change, I also started reading books about it for the first time. Took everything I could get my hands on. You wouldn’t believe how many works there are in our library. Every time I now have a conversation with my dad about the topic I always add: “I read a book about that…” He now is able to interpret the look on my face and finish that sentence for me. Climate change and the media? Climate change and feminism? Climate change and refrigerators? Climate change and bearded trolls in Sweden? You name it.

Through all this reading I got a little overwhelmed by the scope of the project in front of me. I read myself into a writer’s block. Do you know who cured it? Gloria Steinem. I was so excited that even in my lecture I couldn’t stop taking notes. Which was probably not a good idea. Hydrostatic equilibrium? Adiabatic what? Again please?

“A love letter to the books…
That make you jump up hyped to change the world.
That make you write your heart out.
That make you take notes in class with all the crazy ideas you have.
That take you back to your passions.
That make you daydream about reading on.
In which you want to underline every line because they are so true, so honest, so pure, so beautiful. “

My Life on the Road is such a book. I’m just into the first chapters and I’m already inspired. Her writing style is amazing and her sentences resonated with me even in the darkest minutes of my lecture when all I did is scribble down equations I didn’t understand, next to words I had never heard, and a professor who smiled briefly but coldly and said that it all was so logical. Of course. Welcome to uni.

In the midst of all that I remembered her words. They revived in me the wish to also be a journalist, a traveller, a seeker of stories:

“It’s as if attentive people create a magnetic force field for stories the tellers themselves didn’t know they had within them. (…) The simplest paths to deep change is for the less powerful to speak as much as they listen, and for the more powerful to listen as much as they speak.” Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road

Weeks after weeks had I tried to word in my book the need for people to listen to each other, to consider each other’s fates, and to be inclusive in all their talking. Who would have known that it could be said that easily…

As you may have noticed I am in love with this book. I will write a review once I have finished it. Until then I have some questions for you:

Do you know any good books about journalism?
Any other non-fiction you can recommend?
What was one book that made you jump in excitement, that inspired you?

Deadlines and Goals


There is never enough time to do everything. We think that these organised people around us somehow make new time to do all things they love. They don’t. They just have their priorities straight. For effective time management – every book on that subject will tell you so – you need to set your goals. You need to see where you want to go, how you will get there, and when you will do so. That would be all fine if there wasn’t that nagging voice in the back of your head: Does it really matter RIGHT NOW? Couldn’t you just do it in two weeks time? Nobody will care anyway. Watch one more episode. Meet with your friends for dinner.

We put our tasks off until we can’t anymore because we have reached the ultimate deadline. Resulting in stress and bad outcomes. Why not invest more time in realistic planning before hand and then getting the job done? (Hint: we are lazy)

For all this wonderful planning (that I by the way adore) you need to know your goals in life. And then hustle. I just read Lilly Singh’s “How to be a Bawse” and it is awesome. So much practical advice on how to a) be a decent human being b) get shit done c) set your goals and d) grow and climb the ladders of life. You should really check it out. This book is a kick in your booty that was located lazily on the sofa. My booty has been in a very comfortable position lately. I told myself to write daily for this whole year. I made it until the middle of April. Then I stopped. Too much to do, I told myself. My dream – becoming a writer – seemed too far away. I had writer’s block on my latest book project and I just couldn’t get myself to add any more words. The mere thought was ridiculous. How could I write anything every anyway?

Instead I told myself that there was too much to do for uni and then ate my body weight in peanuts and watched youtube videos. Congratulations.

Goal setting for my blog hasn’t worked out that well in the past (look at the hundred’s of posts where I told you I was going to upload regularly. That went so well…) But it doesn’t help to complain about that. Let’s try again. Only talking doesn’t bring me anywhere. I need to do what I preach.

To kick myself in the booty, get away from all this “I am so stressed” nonsense, striving towards my goal of being a writer, I will post once a week. Please hold me accountable for that. Write me angry emails or comments if I do not provide a post every Friday.

Do you have a project you need to get done? Set yourself a deadline and tell your friends to check if you achieved it. Write me in the comments! Tell people about your goals and you are more likely to succeed. Let’s beat the monster of procrastination together!

Why Our Art Matters


John Green made a fabulous video about artists and their work today using the metaphor of the world’s largest ball of paint. I let him tell the story:

He said we might put all our energy into painting that one layer, and making it the most beautiful, only for it to be painted over by others. In the end, our layer of paint did contribute to the size of the ball, to its magnificence. There will be people remembering how we painted that one layer. One day, they will be gone as well. The artwork remains.

As artists we spend a lot of time wondering about if it matters what we do. Certainly through the blog I have shared my work with more people than I would have ever imagined. But even this is temporary. At only a few years old I did a lot of arts and crafts. I loved that. I always glued pieces of paper together and drew on them. That was my art. It is probably tucked away in some box I will never find again. But it contributed to the ball of paint that is my life. Five years ago I started drawing portraits and I still have these first sketches in a binder. Another layer on the ball of paint. Now my artwork is a lot better than those old sketches. I have painted over the old layers. All this time invested contributed thin layers.

If we see our development as artists like that, no perceived failure will ever trouble us again. Because they are all just lumps and bumps in a layer of paint we will soon go over with another colour. We might decide that we don’t like this ball anymore and start a new one. We might glue some paper onto it. We might write some verses on it. But with everything we do, it grows. We grow.

We also spend some time discussing the inevitable question in our head: Are we really undiscovered geniuses or are we just normal human beings thinking too much? Can we really ever know? Is it important?

What do we want our art to do for ourselves? Do we want to be recognised in the streets for our artwork? Do we want to appear in fancy magazines? Do we want our art to sustain our lives? Or do we want to make people happy, make them think, bring them joy? Do we want to send a powerful message? When we pose these questions we will know what we expect from the world. What the world can expect from us.

A genius can work silently in their studio day after day, from dawn to dusk. A genius can get up at 4 in the morning to cram in some extra hours of painting before the day job, only to come home at night exhausted and tired. A genius can get up at 12, write for ten minutes, eat ice cream the whole day, and go to bed five hours later. A genius might have picked up ballet dancing at forty years old and be amazing, despite everything everyone ever told them. We are all geniuses in our own way. We make it work. We struggle through insecurities. Through self-hate. Through doubt. Through anger at ourselves and our equipment. At unsaved documents. At word counts that won’t grow. We will curse our writer’s block and the muse that has left us. We will curse ourselves most often. That is just part of the process. We go on anyway because we have to. We are artists.

Whatever you might want to create today, know, that it will count. It will count for your own development, your growth. It will count for the world. It will count for the large ball of paint that is our culture, and our common humanity. We have always created something to make life more beautiful. We have always used art as a means for communication, to express our wonder about the world. These are challenging times we live in – let your art tell the story of this time. Use it to create even more. Art is what connects us on a much deeper level and this connection is what we need right now. There is so much division, hate, and fear out there. Let’s work on the beautiful ball of paint together that is our planet Earth.

In which way are you an artist genius? Let’s have a little chat in the comments!

I’m Back & Book Project


Oh it has been a long time. I actually have an excuse which is not really one. I have lost my password and nothing worked anymore and exam phase and bla bla bla. But I’m back. I will write essays about the environment and feminism again.

Over the last few months I have been writing daily. It gives me so much pleasure. At the moment these texts add up to 90 000 words… You would think that a student had better things to do. But writing in the evenings is always the thing I’m looking forward to most (Well, not every day … aka writer’s block or evil cycle of self-hatred)

What have I been working on?
It’s a book. You guessed it. My twenty-third (or so) attempt to writing a book. I think everyone is laughing about me and my projects. This one is different, I like to tell myself. It’s non-fiction.
I always loved to read fiction but I could never make enough stuff up to fill a book. I would be overwhelmed by all the things I had to consider. What would they eat? How would their kitchen counter look like? What would the pictures on their walls show? Nope, too much work.
Then I discovered non-fiction. First, through self-help books and then through books about the environment. Which got me thinking. I am an environmental management student. Why not write a book about that? I began to research a little and quickly settled with climate change as a topic. Far too broad. I read loads of scientific papers and decided it should be about the social aspects of climate change. Analyses of feminism, media representation of climate change included. Now that’s a topic I can work with. I wrote a bit and I read a bit and now suddenly it’s 12 000 words. This is going well.

The only problem: I’m a little bit overwhelmed by the dimensions of this project. The more I read the less I know. I am painfully aware of my ignorance and my following ancient concepts of society. I have to step past the rules and read everything I can get my hands on to be able to be a decent human being in writing about this.

This project gives me life, it gives me hope, and it gives me a purpose (why also keeping me putting words on a page every day).

Also I would like to give a huge thanks to the lovely women who commented on my post on feminism (https://verenacave.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/intersectionality-and-feminism/)

https://scribbledstories514.wordpress.com/
https://sammarshihab.wordpress.com/
https://tuneinfeminism.wordpress.com/

Thank you so much for you kind words, they really gave me back some energy to write on and to use my voice.

If you would like to point out any issues or questions I need to include in my book, please tell me! I would love to discuss them with you!

On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft


Yesterday I finished reading Stephen King’s On writing. It’s an amazing book, it tells you so much about what being an author means. He included lots of useful tips I would like to share with you.

How to develop a story?

This is what resonated most with me. He describes the writing process as carving out a fossil from the earth. You have to be careful to not destroy it. You look for traces and follow the bones, you sometimes even work only with brushes. Don’t force a storyline on your characters. Throw stones on their way and let them overcome them. See how they react. This way the story stays interesting. You never know what will happen.

You should always write a first draft and edit out at least 10% in the second session. After writing the first one, you should take a break of several weeks. Work on something different. You will have a different view on your story afterwards.

I apply the same process to my paintings. I love working on portraits. I spread out thin layers of colour, start working on the eyes, switch to another part. Go back and forth. Layer by layer. If I don’t like something, I paint over it. Writing, like painting, is a craft.

What to cut?

Adverbs. “The road to hell is paved with adverbs,” he wrote. I know what he means. I always wrote these extremely descriptive tales with beautifully chosen adverbs that were fitting perfectly… Throw them out. Focus on the story. Focus on the characters.

Show, don’t tell. “Clean your room, for heaven’s sake!”, his mother shouted angrily. Do you think your readers are stupid? Of course she is angry! Don’t tell the reader that, he already knows. Leave the unimportant stuff out.

At the moment I’m editing all my texts from NaNoWriMo 2016 which is a lot of fun. I cut half of the words. These texts are much sharper now. Focused. The rhythm improved, the speed increased. I like them a lot better. If you want to see the results, just go back to my texts, I have written down how many words I deleted.

Write every day.

My plan for 2017 is to write every day. So far I have achieved this. It’s early in the year, though. A few nights ago I was restless and couldn’t go to sleep. I noticed: You haven’t written anything today! I sat at my computer for two hours and slept like a baby.

If you are struggling to summon the energy for writing: Listen to Hamilton, the musical. I am obsessed with it at the moment. Lin-Manuel Miranda. Gosh, that man’s a genius. I can’t understand how I haven’t listened to the songs yet!

“Non-Stop” and “My Shot”. These are the songs for all the desperate writers out there. Write day and night like you running out of time. Like you need it to survive. Go write. Then edit it. Throw the adverbs out. Get it out there. Open your door, let people read it. That’s what being a writer is. Do it for your love of words and stories.

NaNoWriMo 2016
Day 1: http://wp.me/p397E8-4WH
Day 2: http://wp.me/p397E8-4Xb
Day 3: http://wp.me/p397E8-4Xg
Day 4: http://wp.me/p397E8-4Xm
Day 5: http://wp.me/p397E8-4Xu
Day 6: http://wp.me/p397E8-4XA

How to Master Time Management


I love planning. I love organising. That has nothing to do with keeping everything neat and tidy. I’m a messy person. My head is messy. Total chaos at times. But I have my priorities in order. I know what to do, where to go, how to get stuff done. Here is how:

After reading “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey in the end of 2016, I set up a new planner for myself. I always make them from scratch because I like the process of decorating.

How is my calendar structured?

Firstly, we have a yearly overview with all the upcoming dates. Exams, deadlines, birthdays, these sorts of things. I have a bookshelf-page to put all my readings into. Most importantly, a goals and dreams page. Here, I put my mission statement, my new year’s resolutions and habits I want to develop.

There is an overview for each month. I wrote down all the important appointments of every day, when I need to be where. Furthermore, there are my accomplishments of the month and some inspiring quotes to keep me writing.

The real planning happens on a weekly basis. Just as suggested by Stephen Covey, I divided this page into a few parts.

Roles. Identify which roles you hold in your life. You might be a daughter, a spouse, a parent, a co-worker, a friend. A manager, a worker, an artist. Write all of these down. Plan what you are willing to achieve in each of these roles over the course of the week. Put them into the weekly schedule. Plan every day but leave space for surprises and relaxation.

I added a field which is called “Sharpen the Saw” for Habit 7. We need time for ourselves, to do something for our health and well-being. There are four parts to it: mentally (read, write etc), physical (exercise, eat healthy), emotionally (meet with people) and spiritually (meditate). I find them very important so I highlighted them in my calendar.

I’m a student and that’s why I need an exam plan. On this page, I first wrote down when the exams are. I added every single topic I have to study for. Copy notes, do research on a special subject, read some literature the professor recommended. Now I counted the weeks that are left until the exam and the numbers of topics. I distributed them while also checking my schedule so that I won’t overwork myself in an already stressful period. I assign them to my weekly goals. This plan is really helpful to not get overwhelmed. With small portions of content every week I’m not drowning but doing something. Procrastination has no chance here.

Here are some extra tips to make your plan as effective as possible:

1. Think realistically. If you know you are exhausted, don’t plan to do things in the evening. Shift them to other daytimes. Don’t overdo it with the goals for yourself. Set a low number at first. You will be angry at yourself, otherwise, for not reaching your target. Know where your limits are and act accordingly.

2. Write down how much time every activity you planned took. That way, you will know next time that writing an essay will take this long and cleaning your bathroom that long. It makes it a lot easier to squeeze in something you really have to do.

3. Add meetings with friends and things you love to do to your planner. Don’t make it a “To-Do List”. Make it a plan of your day. With all the fun stuff included. That way you will feel like you have accomplished a lot that day, even if you just had some fun meet-ups.

4. Don’t stress out about not meeting your goals. I wanted to be done with so much revision by the end of this week. I didn’t! It doesn’t matter. I’ll plan some more time for it next week. It’s ok. These are just self-set goals.

5. Add the type of activity.

In habit 3, a very common strategy of time management is described. Distinguish between urgent and important. Think of four squares.

There are quadrant 1 activities: Urgent and Important. That work piece that needs to be done right now. That present you need to buy because her birthday is THIS EVENING.

Then there are Urgent but Unimportant activities. You feel they are urgent but in the end it doesn’t matter if they are done or not. I need to make this project report today… No one is going to read it anyway and I don’t want to be involved in yet another thing. Don’t do it then! If it is not important, screw it!

While always running after quadrant 1 activities, we get stressed out. What better activity than sitting in front of the tv the whole evening? That’s a quadrant 4. Not important, and not urgent. Do you feel better after doing that? Chances are you are extremely unhappy with yourself. Why? Because this is not important in any way. You are just wasting away your time.

This is why we should live our lives occupied with quadrant 2 activities: Ones that are important but not urgent. They represent your goals in life, what you would like to work on. These are the meetings with your friends. It’s also exam preparation. Exams are one month away but I’m preparing them anyway because I don’t want to be stressed out when the time comes around.

That’s what you should always aim for: Do the tasks you want to do because they are important. And do them now. So that you don’t freak out, so that they don’t become urgent. Your life will be a lot calmer.

Certainly, we cannot avoid quadrant 1 activities but with a little thought and planning, we can minimise the amount of them. Two weeks ago I started with this new planner. My tasks were basically all quadrant 1. Now, just a few days later, nearly all of them are quadrant 2. I learned how to fulfil my duties in time so that they don’t get urgent. Isn’t that amazing? I’m so much more relaxed! I know that if I stick to my plan, I’ll be fine.

So write it down. Write a little 1 or 2 next to your task and please don’t occupy yourself with unimportant activities. Life is so short. Find out what is meaningful to you and then go do that.

These are my updated tips on how to be better at organising. I love this new system and I will keep you informed on how the exam phase goes, now that I’m in charge of my schedule.

How do you plan? Do you have any additional tips to offer? I’m curious to hear them!